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Ad-ID Overview & Glossary of Terms

What is Ad-ID?

Ad-ID is a web-based system for the registration of advertising assets; it generates and manages unique identifying codes which apply to all media. By registering an ad with Ad-ID you promote greater transparency and accountability in the advertising marketplace, help eliminate costly errors associated with the inconsistent use of advertising asset identifiers throughout the advertising supply chain and enable more granular audience measurement across multiple platforms.

Below are some key terms you will need to know in order to get set-up and navigate the Ad-ID system. 

To learn how to register your ad with Ad-ID, please go to The Structure of the Ad-ID System and New User Set Up located below.


Account: Accounts are used to purchase credits to create codes. Ad-ID prefixes and codes cannot be created without an account.

Ad-ID Code: A valid Ad-ID Code is a unique identifier for an advertising asset. 

Advertiser: The advertiser is the company for which the ad asset is created. For example, Chevrolet is the advertiser under the Parent Company General Motors.

Comma Separate Value (*.csv): A file format used as a portable representation of a database. Each line is one entry or record and the fields in a record are separated by commas. This allows the user to use this information in a variety of applications such as MS Excel, MS Access, etc.

Corporate Hierarchy: This is based on Nielsen's Monitor Plus. It covers every parent company in the US - some 300,000+. 

Dashboard: The dashboard provides a summary view of codes created, prefixes, accounts and groups.  

Groups: Groups are used as a security mechanism and act as a container for prefixes, accounts, codes and users.  

Legacy Prefix: Refers to a prefix that was previously licensed through ISCI, but is now used on the Ad-ID system.

Locked Accounts: Locked accounts can only be used for the advertiser associated to the account. Annual costs for an individual locked account will not exceed $25,000.

Locked Prefix: Locked prefixes can only be used for the advertiser to which they are licensed.

Metadata: Metadata is additional information used to describe an Ad-ID.

Parent Company: The parent company of the advertiser. For example, General Motors is the parent company of Chevrolet. 

Prefix: A prefix is a 4 character identifier licensed to a company and used at the beginning of each Ad-ID code. Prefixes may contain letters and/or numbers, but they cannot start with zero. Prefixes may be either locked or unlocked.

Profile: The details of an individual user, such as full name, address, etc. 

Registered User: A registered user is a user who has completed their profile in the Ad-ID System.

Slate: The slate includes all of the required fields that must be completed when creating your Ad-ID code.

Unlocked Accounts: Unlocked accounts can be licensed to agents (ad agencies, distribution companies, production companies, etc.) and used for multiple advertisers that do not have a locked account and prefix. Unlike locked accounts, annual costs for an individual unlocked account can exceed $25,000.

Unlocked Prefix: Unlocked prefixes may be licensed to agents (ad agencies, distribution companies, production companies, etc.) and used for multiple advertisers that do not have a locked prefix.

The Structure of the Ad-ID System and New User Set Up

The Ad-ID system streamlines the registration process of advertising assets across the entire supply chain, including advertisers, agencies, service providers (vendors), distributors, platforms, and includes media buying and selling as a parallel path. The result of the registration of the ad asset is the generation of valid Ad-ID codes.

Valid Ad-ID Codes can only be created using the Ad-ID system. In order to be able to generate valid Ad-ID codes, a registered user on the Ad-ID system must be a member of a group which is associated with a funded account which has a valid prefix. 

It will take approximately 15 minutes to set up a profile and accounts within the Ad-ID system. This is a one-time set up, and subsequent purchases and activity are quick and easy.

Detailed instructions on the complete Ad-ID set up process are available in our Help section.

Registering your ads with Ad-ID represents an important first step in the streamlining and simplification of the advertising supply chain. The universal adoption of unique advertising asset identification is imperative to the success of accurate, timely and more granular measurement of the performance of advertisements and the reduction of waste that is inherent in the current business practices and workflows.

To create Ad-ID Codes, you must become a registered user by creating a profile in the Ad-ID System.

Ad-ID Codes themselves consist of a prefix, which is unique to a company, and a seven or eight character sequence number.

Before the account is described, it is important to establish the difference between locked prefixes and unlocked prefixes. A locked prefix can only be used for the advertiser to which they are licensed. An unlocked prefix can be licensed to agents (ad agencies, distribution companies, production companies, etc.) and used for multiple advertisers that do not have a locked prefix.

The fact that these prefixes are "unlocked" allows an agency to assign Ad-ID codes on behalf of multiple advertisers who do not want to establish their own Ad-ID accounts. Because there is no maximum number of advertisers for which one unlocked account can create codes, there is no maximum annual cost unlocked accounts can reach in a 12-month period.

Additional information on prefixes can be found in the Ad-ID Structure section of our website and the Ad-ID Rate Card.

Ad-ID accounts with locked prefixes can be used to generate codes for the advertiser to which they are licensed and will also be associated with a parent company. One example of a parent company is General Motors, the parent company of Cadillac and Chevrolet. In the Ad-ID system, Cadillac and Chevrolet are considered advertisers. Annual costs for individual locked accounts will not exceed $25,000.

The corporate hierarchy is based on Nielsen's Monitor Plus and defines the relationship between products, brands, advertisers and parent companies. Ad-ID uses this data to ensure that the metadata that accompanies the Ad-ID code guarantees a unique and unambiguous identification of the source of the advertising asset. 

Groups are set up on the Ad-ID system to identify work areas in which different registered users can create Ad-ID codes for one or more advertisers. For example, "Chicago Group" might be the group for a Chicago agency from which their registered users create Ad-ID codes for Cadillac and Chevrolet.